Alfie Brown - The Love You Take

This is a show which will divide audiences, causing disputes of both an interpersonal and internal nature. I'm duty-bound to mention that my friend and neighbour disliked the young stand-up's approach intensely; it was, she said, the most depressing piece of comedy she had ever seen. And in some ways, I would agree – Brown's lengthy meditations on the terrifying eternity of death don't find an easy balance with what he presents as a life-affirming narrative arc, and some sections are too long and come across as self-indulgent. This was a preview performance however, and at moments it was evident that Brown has some considerable talent; the question is whether he is currently using it for comedy good or evil.Let's talk about evil. By far the finest moments in the set are its darkest, where Brown jettisons any attempt at that elusive overarching framework and delivers brief, brutal insights into the nastier corners of the human (male) psyche. A segment in which he intersperses a graphic mime of oral sex with a mother waving to her child at the school gates condenses the previous five minutes' meandering meditations on the premature sexualisation of our culture into a pithy gross-out short sharp shock reminiscent of the late Bill Hicks. Unpleasant as this sounds, it shows the germs of a distinctive artistic vision that would take the show away from morose navel-gazing into some capable of genuinely unsettling his audience's preconceptions. Currently, however, there is too much fat on the bones. If Brown wants to show us the skull beneath the skin, he might start by eliminating the ten opening minutes of starry-eyed mysticism on the birth of the universe and the bits about how boring he finds Loose Women. He could save his startling poetic voice for moments where a literary turn of phrase will be shocking and fresh, rather than spending half of the show trying to draw imagistic blood from rather tired stone. At times his disgust approaches the nauseous lyricism of a writer like Martin Amis; at times the tedious misanthropy of a low-rent Grumpy Old Man. If Brown trims the show and follows the most profitable of these two paths, it would be far more distinct and interesting – a shorter slot at a later time would suit him far, far better.I'm also duty-bound to mention he gets his balls out.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

Obsessed with notions of artistry and morality, Alfie Brown uses evocative, extraordinary language to condemn the demise of culture and articulate the importance of imagination, having an opinion and love, in a funny way.